Fighting for qualified teachers in NSW gaols

Gary Zadkovich
Acting President

Educators rally against cuts outside Bathurst gaol

The campaign to stop the replacement of the qualified teacher workforce in NSW gaols with people employed in clerical and trainer roles is gaining momentum.

The proposed abolition of the professional teacher workforce in the NSW prison system exemplifies the global push to commercialise and privatise public education in all its forms, including schools.

In addition to ongoing political lobbying by Federation members in Corrective Services, schools and TAFE, and local campaign activities that are generating media coverage, Federation is working with Unions NSW and supportive community organisations to build wider support.

Federation met with the Minister for Corrections, David Elliott, on July 27 and requested a stay on any further implementation of the outsourcing plan. Federation representatives stated a preparedness to engage in negotiation on the two key reasons the Minister gave for making the changes in his media release of May 10 — refocusing curriculum delivery on literacy and numeracy skills and ensuring that inmates have access to education and training throughout the calendar year.

It was pointed out to the Minister that Corrective Services management had decided to implement rostering that required teachers to take leave in school vacation time. Federation supports providing teaching and learning programs all year round, as has been negotiated for Department of Education teachers working in NSW juvenile justice centres.

In addition to this meeting, Federation Senior Officers also raised the matter in a meeting on August 3 with Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Skills John Barilaro when discussing the future of TAFE NSW.

The Premier said he was aware of concerns with the outsourcing plan, accepted a copy of the letter to Minister Elliott and gave an assurance that he would directly consider the matters involved.

Federation wrote to the Premier later that day as follows: “In light of the short timeline that the Department of Corrective Services announced for implementation of its outsourcing plan, and the negative impact on the morale and wellbeing of our members, many of whom have given long and dedicated service to adult education in NSW gaols, Federation would appreciate your earliest response on this important matter.”

In the meantime, Federation will continue to support members in Corrective Services in this vital campaign.

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